RESIDENTS have expressed concerns that Bicester could become ‘one large housing estate’ as developers announce plans to build another 550 homes in the town.

The homes would be in North West Bicester and form part of the 6,000-home eco-town off the B4100 Banbury Road.

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Put forward by Firethorn Developments Limited, on behalf of Firethorn Trust, 40 per cent of the 22 hectare site will be dedicated to green space which will include natural play areas for younger children and ecologically rich meadow areas.

It will also have a sustainable drainage system, will ‘re-wild’ areas allowing habitats to develop naturally over time, have new and improved footpaths and cycleways and up to 30 per cent of the houses will be affordable.

The site would sit next to Elmsbrook, the first phase of houses which have already been built in the eco-town.

But people say Bicester is lacking the facilities needed to support the homes.

Resident Lindsey Johns said: “It would be okay if we had enough doctors, schools and decent shops to cope with the influx.”

Jacqui Adams said: “They need to improve facilities here if they are going to keep building.”

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Jane Elizabeth Rea said: “Bicester is becoming one large housing estate, with little thought for amenities for local people. Also are these going to be affordable properties for the local community? I very much doubt it.”

Gagle Brook primary school is the closest school to the site and play areas and workspaces are nearby. Supermarkets, GPs, the town centre and retail parks are further afield.

But Natasha Henderson, who lives in Elmsbrook, is particularly concerned about the lack of activities that developers provide for young people to enjoy.

She says children and elderly residents are covered, but teenagers are often forgotten.

She said: “In general I am for it, however my neighbours and I have a real concern about the lack of thought for older children and teenagers, especially as we have a huge proportion of young children living here who will rapidly become teenagers.

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“The proposal talks about catering for all ages but looking at the details it suggests they mean structural support for older people struggling with mobility and parks/play areas for younger children.”

Ms Henderson says she has suggested to developers ideas such as a pump track (a natural off road cycle track) or lido/swimming pool which would give older children something to do to alleviate boredom and anti social behaviour.

She added: “I really worry about this. Elmsbrook currently has a huge proportion of pre-school children who are going to turn into teenagers with nothing to do.”

Residents are invited to view and comment on Firethorn's plans until April 9 by visiting the dedicated project website

Paul Martin of Firethorn Developments Limited said: “Given the ongoing Covid-19 considerations, we are inviting the community to view our proposals for North West Bicester via a virtual public consultation portal and dedicated project website. We look forward to receiving valuable feedback from the community that will help inform and shape our master plan.”